Teams are starting to catch Red Bull Racing, Verstappen admits

Max VerstappenMax Verstappen
Max Verstappen | Getty Images
The world championship leader took his seventh win of the season and third in a row in Spain

Max Verstappen admitted Red Bull Racing were probably second best in Barcelona on Sunday despite claiming victory in the Spanish Grand Prix.

In the first of three back-to-back races, Verstappen, starting second, got the leap on pole sitter Lando Norris off the line but the pair were passed by the fast-starting George Russell into the first corner.

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But after Verstappen sailed past the Mercedes early on, Norris was caught behind as the Dutchman pulled away. As the race would unfold, the gap Verstappen would build in this part of the race would turn out to be crucial. Norris’ strategy would see him on newer tyres in the closing stages, but Verstappen would cross the line three seconds ahead to further extend his championship lead.

After seeing a resurgence from McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari recently, Verstappen admitted Red Bull are, for the first time in several years, are not the fastest car on the grid of late.

“We lacked a bit of pace and McLaren were better on the tyres than us today,” he said. “That is something that we need to look at and aim to improve on. I needed to try and push a bit more as Lando was pushing full out behind to try to catch me.

“We executed everything really well today and I am really pleased to win here in Barcelona. I managed to get ahead in lap two, which ultimately made my race, and the Team did a great job as we were aggressive with the strategy and made all of the right calls. After we overtook and led the race we had to take quite a defensive strategy and really push to the end.”

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Sergio Perez’s lean spell continued as he recovered from 11th to eighth in Spain in a fairly anonymous weekend for the Mexican.

He said: “It was super hard to pass anyone on that first stint, especially in the dirty air, I was managing my tyres and in a DRS train. I think that ultimately compromised our race and we had some balance issues on the soft tyre, which made things harder than predicted.

“I have made good learnings this weekend for the coming weeks, I am hopeful we can be more competitive and come back strong in Austria. I need to help deliver perfect weekends for the team because it is going to be a very competitive season."

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